Indiana State University Newsroom

Physical therapy students to screen for concussions

July 3, 2017

Indiana State University Doctor of Physical Therapy students volunteered all school year to teach children at the Terre Haute Boys and Girls Club the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

Their work will pick up again on July 8 when they partner with Union Hospital Sports Medicine to conduct the first round of concussion baseline screenings for all second- through eighth-graders in the Boys and Girls Club football league at the Boys and Girls Club Field.

Last year, all 30 first-year students and four second-year students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program helped conduct the baseline screenings for 387 players.

"We do baseline as close to when the season starts as we can, usually the first or second week of practice. Worst-case scenario, before their first game. Then we compare each child to themselves if there are questionable injuries," said Brittney Millspaugh Storms, assistant professor in department of applied medicine and rehabilitation. "The athletic trainer at Union Hospital who works with the football program refers children he's concerned about to me, and I refer children to him. If a child is found to have a concussion, they are not allowed back on the field until they are within 10 percent of their starting point. It's a way to keep them safe."

Screenings take four to six minutes per child, and the results are blinded so only the children's ages and grade levels are visible. As many screenings as possible are conducted when players are fitted for their equipment in July, but Indiana State students return to complete the screenings if needed.
The experience allows first-year students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program to practice engaging with parents and children, so in their second year, students can begin operating the screening system independently.

"Sometimes we are the only safety net, so having our students participate in the screening shows them the importance of community involvement," Millspaugh Storms said. "They also get firsthand experience learning specialized concussion testing. We use a balance system so kids can't fake it, and it is a valuable experience for our students to work with kids and parents.

"Concussions are so in vogue right now and we don't understand it all, but testing indicates that concussions are related to chronic traumatic encephalopathy. That's scary when you're talking about a 9-year-old who has had three concussions already."

The concussion screenings follow school-year-long service to the Boys and Girls Club, where the Doctor of Physical Therapy students provided programming to educate children about the human body and basic healthy habits. A garden they planted in front of the Boys and Girls Club will also allow children attending summer camp to continue learning when Indiana State students turn their focus toward conducting concussion screenings.

"It was good to be involved in these activities since these kids sometimes come from backgrounds that don't stress the importance of healthy eating or healthy living, and it was a great experience being able to be involved with the community and teach children and parents, especially about concussions," said third-year Doctor of Physical Therapy student Jacob Vogel of Zionsville, who helped with both Boys and Girls Club activities.
The screenings have included concussion education with the coaches. This year, the plan is to extend the education to parents, too.

"It is very possible to change a person's life with a concussion. I had two concussions within a year of each other and it changed how I think, how I process information and my ability to make memories," Millspaugh Storms said. "I know how important it is to help parents and kids understand the seriousness of concussions. If a child has more than a headache after a hit, it's a big deal."


Contact: Brittney Millspaugh Storms, assistant professor, department of applied medicine and rehabilitation, Indiana State University,

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or


Story Highlights

Indiana State physical therapy students will partner with Union Hospital Sports Medicine to conduct concussion baseline screenings for all second- through eighth-graders in the Boys and Girls Club football league on July 8.

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